Couple doing yoga in an airport
PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE POWELL/GETTY

Airport Yoga Studios

A guide to airport yoga and meditation rooms that help travelers unwind and energize.

April 1, 2015

Peace of mind is difficult to attain in everyday life. Now add air travel into the mix: the potential stressors get multiplied exponentially along with unexpected delays, flight cancellations, or a general anxiety about flying. While quiet time is typically elusive at airports, you can find islands of tranquility even here: increasingly, these travel hubs are unveiling spaces for meditation and yoga. In these rooms you can catch your breath, find time for contemplation, and do a few asanas, helping you regain your center in the midst of the turbulence. (Looking for regain your center more long-term? Join us for our live online 21-day New Year, New You meditation challenge, starting January 1!)

San Francisco International Airport
Leave it to the Bay Area’s airport authorities to debut a devoted yoga room. The 150-square-foot space opened in 2012 and was said to be the first of its kind in an airport. The room, located in SFO’s Terminal 2, allows travelers to stretch out muscles and build up resources for inner calm either before traveling or during a layover; upon entering, practitioners are asked to remove their shoes and turn off their cellphones. A second yoga room, located in the airport’s Terminal 3, opened in 2014.

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Chicago O’Hare International Airport
ORD doesn’t have the greatest reputation as a travel hub, but since December 2013, there has been an eye of calm within the Windy City maelstrom: a yoga room. The space, in Terminal 3, can be used for yoga or meditation, and the design of it features eco touches like bamboo flooring along with amenities that allow visitors to practice comfortably. Mats are provided—in case you didn’t pack yours—along with wipes for cleaning them off. Another touch conducive for breathing deeply: The studio is next to the airport’s indoor garden. (Not to be outdone, the city’s Midway Airport added a yoga room in September.)

Burlington International Airport
With its green walls, hardwood floors, and yoga props arranged to the side, the yoga space at the Burlington International Airport in Vermont feels like a cozy room in a local yoga studio. And indeed, the space, which opened in January 2013, was designed by the Burlington yoga outfit Evolution Physical Therapy and Yoga. Benches along the walls provide a place for sitting quietly; peripatetic yogis leave comments in the room’s guest book, creating a written collage.

Albuquerque International Sunport
The Southwest has long been a pilgrimage for those on spiritual journeys—there’s something about the light there and the majesty of the landscape that is conducive for inner awakening. If you find yourself in the city’s airport—called the “sunport” by local authorities—you can test out the vibe in the meditation room.

 

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San Diego International Airport
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority enlisted the artist Norie Sato to create an environment for contemplation and quiet. The serene space, opened in 2014 in Terminal 2, feels a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the airport. The design features simple wooden benches, a sculptural (and non-denominational) altar, and glass panel walls showing sunlight dappling on contoured waves of water—photographs that Sato took of the city’s harbor.

Schiphol International Airport
For those with international destinations, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport offers a meditation center where travelers can sit quietly for contemplative time. The high-ceilinged room has chairs situated around a central podium and is decorated with stained-glass windows. A separate reading room offers spirituality related magazines and publications, and there’s an additional area where jet setters can meet with spiritual leaders of different faiths. Other European airports with meditation rooms include Munich and Heathrow. Helsinki did a test-run of an airport yoga studio in the summer of 2014, featuring classes designed to contend with jet lag. The experiment led to the classic Twitter line “#Airport #yoga from HEL.